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With a Champions League brace on Wednesday night (September 30), Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed 500 career goals for club and country. In fact, we can see that Cristiano Ronaldo truly is a goal machine.
A delve in the story behind him making it halfway to a thousand goals reveals the extent of feats he has achieved over the course of the 13 years since he first scored as a bold, confident 17-year-old at Sporting Lisbon. In doing so he gave more than just a glimpse into the future.
He hit only five goals for the Portuguese side before Sir Alex Ferguson snapped him up for Manchester United, where he found the net 118 times in 292 appearances. Since moving to Real Madrid for a world record fee, he has scored at a truly astonishing rate, with 323 goals in 308 matches.
Comparatively, their former sole record scorer, Raul, took 741 games to reach the same tally.
2013 has been his most prolific year to date, when he struck a whopping 69 times – perhaps benefitting from not having to carry his country’s hopes in a major tournament over the summer. That tally will take some beating, but with 42 already so far this year he could quite feasibly make it past 60 for a fifth consecutive year.
Ronaldo’s goals by year
Although he bullies many of the lesser teams he comes up against – having hit 32 hat-tricks over the course of his career, as well as four goals three times and five in a game twice – he scores his fair share of important goals, too.
Champions League final goals against Chelsea and Atletico Madrid spring to mind, while he has also hit nine goals at World Cups and European Championships for Portugal.
Ronaldo scored the opener in the 2008 Champions League final.
His favourite opponents are Sevilla (21 goals) and Getafe (18 goals), but he also has hit 15 apiece against both Barcelona and Atletico, never fading on the grandest stage. He has been much of the reason that Real have scored so freely in and had the better of recent Clasicos. In England, Aston Villa were his greatest victim.
The majority of his goals are scored late on – between 76 and 90 minutes – which may be considered to be when his opponents are most fatigued, when his team mates need him most, or both.
The biggest criticism of Ronaldo’s goalscoring exploits has been an over-reliance on penalties. 81 have come from spot-kicks which is a significant number indeed, but given that he has hit even more from outside the box (84) there can be little gripe with the fact that he takes his chances from 12 yards.
326 of his goals have been right-footed, while another 90 were left-footed and 83 headed. He has scored 45 direct free-kicks, too.
In terms of team mates he has to thank for his outstanding record, Karim Benzema has assisted most, with 31, while Mesut Ozil, the player whose Real Madrid departure Ronaldo declared himself “angry” at, set up 27 Ronaldo goals in their three years together.
Gareth Bale has laid on 20 in just over two years at the Bernabeu, while fellow Welshman Ryan Giggs was Ronaldo’s best provider at Old Trafford, with 16 assists.
Whatever you think of Cristiano Ronaldo, it is simply undeniable that his goal record is astounding. One can only wonder when the rate at which he scores will slow up, as Wednesday night would suggest that will not be any time soon.
(Followed by: Telegraph, UK)